In the past few years I’ve fallen off the holiday card wagon. Somehow the mix of final papers to write and correct, classroom parties to volunteer at and teacher gifts to buy, and secret holiday shopping and sewing to do just wasn’t conducive to dashing off 30+ holiday wishes of cheer and peace to family and friends–not to mention coordinating stuffing those wishes with reprinted posed photos of my children. So I just let it go.
Sometimes cards and/or photos would straggle out in January. Sometimes not. If you received something from me, feel lucky. Besides my Grandma, who always gets first priority on any letters or photos sent, I’m not sure who ranked and why in the past three years. But this year I hope to remedy that. My first order of business was to recruit the family for some card making fun.
I wanted the card making to be a family adventure in art production, and so when I read in the latest issue of ReadyMade about using simple block printing to create cards I almost jumped up and down (almost–it is only holiday cards we’re talking about here).
After a family trip to the art store to purchase needed supplies (including very soft blocks for carving/cutting that I think are these Soft-Kut ones), we sat down to our task, each of us with our own (but single) block to cut. No mistakes. No holds bar.
I suggested the kids sketch on a piece of paper before hand to get some ideas down, and then had them sketch it onto the blocks with a marker as outlined in the Readymade instructions. I also had them try pencil, but there was a tendency to stab the block with the pencil point. I thought I would be doing all the carving of their designs, but found that my 8 year old could do it all on her own with just a few pointers, and my six year old only needed help with a few difficult curves and details. This is due mainly from the fact that these are very very soft blocks (not the hard “linoleum” blocks I remember trying to cut in 6th grade art class).
Designs done, we rolled on our ink (water-based for easy clean-up with kids), placed our card paper on top, rubbed, and removed. Voilà! Hand printed holiday cards for all (or at least our 30+ nearest and dearest).
I highly recommend this little art adventure for most ages. Younger than 6 will probably not be able to cut, but they can certainly draw their design, ink their block and pull off their completed prints. The outlay for supplies was a little more than our budget was hoping, but my kids enjoyed it so much that I’m hoping we’ll get some good use out of these tools in months and years to come.
Tools Needed: Soft-Kut blocks, Linoleum cutter with blades, soft rubber brayer, water-soluable ink, ink tray (we used one saved from the grocery store).